100 Ideas for a Fall Family Festival

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Pack your next carnival with these outrageously fun ideas.

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BOOTHS

  1. Treasure Box-Kids dig for prizes in a sand-filled aquarium. (William Pesata)
  2. Gospel Sing-Have a talent show on a flatbed truck. (WP)
  3. Door Prizes-As they enter, participants get tickets for a drawing held later. (WP)
  4. Jonah and the Big Fish-Decorate a refrigerator box to look like a big fish. Hang moss on the top inside of the box. Use a red light inside and have “Jonah” tell his story. (WP)
  5. Candy Grab-Kids get one chance to grab all the candy they can out of a bucket. (WP)
  6. Swirl Painting-Kids make art designs from a swirl painting kit-available at toy stores. (WP)
  7. Nurse’s Station-Children get their pulse rate, weight, and height done by a uniformed nurse. (Loretta Bueckert)
  8. Computer Printout-Kids get printouts with their name and its meaning (taken from baby name books). (LB)
  9. Karaoke Singing-Have an adult play the piano. Kids sing their choice of song on a little stage, complete with a microphone. (LB) 
  10. Nail Painting-Older girls paint kids’ nails. (LB) 
  11. Treasure Dig-Kids dig around in a kiddie pool filled with plastic foam packing peanuts and small toys. (Amy Brown)
  12. Family Photo Booth-Families pose for instant-print photos. Then place photos in kid-decorated frames. (Cathy Gould)
  13. Live Reformers-Costumed Martin Luther, John Calvin, or John Knox give brief presentations about what happened in their lifetimes. (CG) 
  14. Bean the Philistine-Kids sling small beanbags at a life-size plywood cutout of Goliath. (Marilyn Marsh) 
  15. Pin the Thesis-Have “Martin Luther” talk with children before blindfolding and spinning each one. Then each child tapes a pre-printed “thesis” to a door. (Diane Ritchie) 
  16. Ring It-Children toss embroidery hoops over empty two-liter bottles arranged similar to bowling pins on the floor. (DR)
  17. Ring It Again-Kids toss hoops at prizes set up on tables or boxes. Prizes include bubbles, soft drinks, and small toys. (DR)
  18. Muffin Pan Toss-Kids toss 10 pennies into a muffin tin with numbered holes; pieces of felt in the bottom of the tin keep pennies from bouncing out. (Sandra Klinsing) 
  19. The Mummy Wrap-One player is the “wrapper,” the other is the “wrappee.” Racing against time, the wrapper wraps the wrappee with an entire roll of toilet paper. (Ellynne Wiebe)
  20. The Carpenter’s Crew-Each player is given a hammer and a board with three already started nails. On go, the carpenter is given 30 seconds to hammer as many nails as possible. (EW) 
  21. This Little Light of Mine-Each player receives two filled squirt guns. Standing 3 feet away from three lit candles, kids try to extinguish the candles before running out of water. (EW) 
  22. Knock It Off-Kids use water guns to knock pingpong balls off tops of soft drink bottles.
  23. Blow and Go Race-Four children race on the floor using party blowers to blow pingpong balls to a finish line. (Karen Claunch)
  24. Pingpong Blow-Teams of three compete to blow pingpong balls to the other end of a table, using drinking straws. 
  25. Pumpkin Sweep-Children sweep a small pumpkin along a taped course on the floor. Kids can race against each other or against time. (KC) 
  26. Creation Station-Kids create art with this “putty”: Stir 4 tablespoons of glue and a few drops of food coloring in a bowl. Add a few teaspoons of dissolved borax water solution. Stir. Then squeeze it like dough. Provide water for washing hands and plastic bags for the putty. (Keith Wilson)
  27. Exploration Point-Fill a sandbox with objects to tell a Bible story. Give kids toy shovels to dig out the objects. Then tell them the story. (KW)
  28. Can Alley-Cut out one side of a big box. Hang soft drink cans from strings inside the box. Kids shoot at the cans with Nerf guns. (KW) 
  29. Music Videos-Set up a camcorder so it’ll play through a television. Kids pick their wardrobes from old clothes and wigs. Kids then lip-sync to Christian music while watching themselves on TV. (KW)
  30. Gummy Fun-Set out two paper plates for each child. Fill one plate with Gummy Worms. Pour Hershey’s syrup over the candy. With hands behind their backs, children pick up the candy with their mouths and set it on their empty plates. (Cheryl Russell)
  31. Super Hero Story Tent-Every half-hour, a creative storyteller tells a different Bible story. A poster clock outside the tent shows the next story time.-(Kandi Elliott, Nancy Hastings, and Gail Vindas)
  32. Noah’s Super Boat Race-Fill capped, plastic rain gutters with colored water and lay them on parallel tables. Give children small plastic boats to blow the length of the gutters. (KE, NH, GV) 
  33. Moses’ Super Journey Obstacle Course-Children experience the Israelite’s journey by running through sprinklers, eating graham cracker manna, carrying cardboard tablets over sturdy step ladders, pushing through oversize grape clusters of purple balloons, fighting giant cardboard cutouts with bed pillows, and running through streamers to the Promised Land where they receive compasses. (KE, NH, GV)
  34. Jonah’s Super Soaker-Children run through a revolving sprinkler head, then crawl under a table draped with blue sheets. Lay plastic sheeting under the table and cover it with cooked spaghetti. Stake a whale painted with gaping jaws against the table. Tape clear plastic to the whale to keep it dry. (KE, NH, GV) 
  35. Moses’ Super Cake Walk-Instead of numbers, use the 10 plagues to mark your cake walk. Children walk the circle as music plays. When the music stops, the child closest to the drawn plague wins the cake. (KE, NH, GV)
  36. Basketball Shoot-Kids toss a basketball through a PlaySkool hoop. 
  37. Water Sponge Toss-Kids toss a sponge at a person peeking through a plywood cutout. 
  38. Water Sponge Toss Too-Kids toss sponges into lined up buckets. 
  39. Dunking Booth-Put your church staff and teachers in a rented dunking booth. 
  40. Face Painting-Decorate kids’ faces.
  41. Putt Putt Golf-Kids play through a miniature course. 
  42. Floating Ducks-Kids pick up plastic ducks from a wading pool. The number on the duck corresponds to a prize. 
  43. Sucker Tree-Kids pull suckers from a Pegboard. The color of the sucker handle corresponds to a prize.
  44. Bowling-Kids play with a plastic bowling set.
  45. Pockets the Clown-A clown gives away prizes hidden in his or her clothes pockets. 
  46. MASH Unit-Kids get bandaged up-complete with fake blood. 
  47. Milk Can Toss-Kids toss softballs at milk cans or empty 2-liter bottles. 
  48. Football Toss-Kids toss a football through a hanging, swinging tire.
  49. Dart Throw-Kids throw darts at balloons on a cork board.
  50. Caricature Drawings-A resident artist draws pictures of kids and parents. 
  51. Costume Parade-Costumed participants parade around your festival area. 
  52. Bingo-Set apart a separate room for an ongoing game. 
  53. Tunnel of Fun-Kids crawl through a giant tunnel made from old appliance boxes. End the tunnel down a flight of stairs and have kids land on a mattress. Use spotters. 
  54. Jail-The pastor dresses up as a sheriff and throws people into jail. Create a fun bail requirement for them to get out.
  55. Clothespin Drop-Kids drop clothespins into a wide-mouth jar. 
  56. Ball Cage-Rent a ball cage big enough for parents to play in also. 
  57. Cotton Candy-Rent a machine, then all you need is gobs of sugar.
  58. Emergency Vehicles-Have fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars on display. 
  59. Model Cars-Give the collectors in your church a chance to show their prize possessions. 
  60. Fishing Game-Kids fish over a wall and hook prizes. 
  61. Pony Rides-Kids ride ponies in a circle-with adult supervision. 
  62. Petting Zoo-Bring in soft, furry animals for children to enjoy. 
  63. Pumpkin Decorating-Give kids craft supplies and markers for no-mess decorating. 
  64. Cookie Decorating-Provide shaped sugar cookies, icing, and sprinkles. 
  65. I Was There-Have Bible characters deliver monologues. For example, a “leper” could run through the crowd yelling “unclean.” Once the leper has an audience, he delivers a monologue about how he’s searching for Jesus-the Master Physician. 
  66. Edible Bracelets-Kids make bracelets by putting Fruit Loops on licorice laces. 
  67. This Is Me-Use a desk lamp to shine light on a hanging paper on the wall. Have children stand between the light and the wall while an artist outlines their profiles.
  68. Tattooed-Kids get fake tattoos-available at stores. 
  69. Instant Booth-Hang sheets on four PVC pipes. Connect the pipes and suspend from the ceiling with sturdy fishing line. You’ve just created a booth area. 
  70. Bean Bag Toss-Kids toss small bean bags into plastic buckets. 
  71. Crazy Caps-Kids decorate old baseball caps by gluing on beads, buttons, ribbons, sequins, feathers, and fabric scraps. 
  72. Puppet Shows-A new puppet show every half hour in your sanctuary. 
  73. Mask-erade-Kids make masks out of paper plates.
  74. Obstacle Course-Preschoolers go over, under, and through a course. 
  75. Penny Splash-Fill an aquarium with water. Sink three tall glasses so they sit upright on the bottom of the tank. Kids try to drop pennies into the glasses. 
  76. Balloon Stomp-Tie a 3-foot string to an inflated balloon. Each child ties the string to his or her ankle. See who can keep the others from stomping on his or her balloon.
  77. Jell-O Eating Contest-Prepare Jell-O Jigglers according to the package directions. Put the same amount of Jell-O on each contestant’s paper plate. Kids put their hands behind their backs and race to be the first to eat all their Jell-O. 
  78. Art Mural-Hang a roll of newsprint and let kids create a masterpiece. 
  79. Bobbing for Apples-Kids try to bite apples floating in a tub of water. 
  80. Swinging Apple-Tie an apple to a string. As it swings from a doorway, kids keep hands behind their backs and get three tries to bite the apple. 
  81. Christmas Time-Kids race to decorate a miniature Christmas tree, then sing a Christmas carol in two minutes.
  82. Pinata-Every hour on the hour, gather kids together to bust a pinata.
  83. Goldfish Bowl Toss-Kids throw pingpong balls at goldfish bowls. They keep a fish if the ball lands in its bowl.
  84. Hayrides-Take children on a flatbed truck hayride around several city blocks.PRIZES
  85. Everyone Wins-Give a prize for participation at each booth.
  86. Prize Finds-Request give-aways, promotional items, and gift certificates from restaurants, stores, and companies in your area. 
  87. Candy Admission-Have kids bring a bag of individually wrapped candies to be given away as prizes. 
  88. Toy Collection-Have kids bring a clean toy, stuffed animal, or game they’ve outgrown as their admission. Give a ticket value to each prize. Kids can cash in tickets for prizes-a la Chuck E. Cheese’s style.
  89. Church Donations-Have a sign-up sheet for church members to donate specific prizes or booth supplies.
  90. Cheap Thrills-Order inexpensive prizes from the Oriental Trading Company. Call 800-246-8400 or (402) 331-6800. Or call U.S. Toy Company, Inc., 800-225-6124 or (816) 761-5900.FOODS
  91. Finger Foods-Put a piece of candy corn in each fingertip of a clear rubber glove. Then stuff the glove with popcorn. Tie the glove with curling ribbon. 
  92. Taffy Pull-Have an old-fashioned snack experience.
  93. Popcorn!-Attach straps to a tray. Fill popcorn boxes and place on the tray. Have a wandering hawker wear the tray and give away the popcorn. 
  94. Mystery Drink-Freeze Kool-Aid in ice trays. Pour a clear soft drink over the cubes. Serve in clear cups and watch the color change. 
  95. Banana Pops-Insert Popsicle sticks into bananas. Dip in melted chocolate. Freeze for two hours.SUCCESS TIPS
  96. Give It Away-Have each participant donate a nonperishable food that can later be donated to an area food pantry.
  97. Costumes-Choose a theme and have kids come in costume for that theme. Discourage scary costumes, but be gracious toward any visitors who show up in “forbidden” costumes. Think outreach! 
  98. Everyone Plays-Encourage parents and festival staff to dress in costume also. 
  99. Staffing-Staff your festival with teenagers, grandparents, and nonparents. This way, parents will be free to help and enjoy their children at the booths. 
  100. Timing-Hold your festival the night of Halloween. That’s the time parents are looking for alternatives to this ghoulish evening.

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